UNSC’s Regional Deployment to South Sudan: Challenges and Possibilities
August 13, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– The UNSC’s deployment of regional protection force to South Sudan has been approved with a clear mandate which contradicts the government of South Sudan’s expectations according to UNSC meeting on Friday 12 August 2016. The UNSC has agreed to deploy 4,000 troops with a robust mandate, including engaging in action against any force that will obstruct the implementation of peace, protection of civilians, UN and government installations, and disarming any force that might involve in attacking civilians or peacekeepers.
Because of the political nature of the conflict that involved Uganda and Sudan in relation to accusations of supporting the government and the armed opposition respectively, both countries have agreed to be excluded from deploying forces to South Sudan. However, they can still engage differently to bolster regional and international efforts to implement peace in South Sudan.
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The government of South Sudan has agreed in principle to send regional forces under an independent administration and management not under the UN. That proposal by the government has been seen as a way to manipulate the mandate of force and possibly allow them a ground to negotiate some of the provisions of deployment to suit their interests mainly to incapacitate peace implementation.
An interview with the press spokesperson in the office of President Kiir, Mr. Ateny Wek yesterday on Aljazeera news network revealed that government’s clear intentions to object and obstruct the deployment of regional force. He was quoted saying that:
“We won’t allow the UNSC deployment of regional force because it is against the will of the government and it undermines its sovereignty. Our consent must be sought when such a decision has to be made”
However, the sovereignty that Mr Ateny was referring to seemed to be utterly disregarded by the government of South Sudan that he represents. According to the UN Charter:
“Sovereignty resides in the body of the nation and belongs to the people. But these powers are generally exercised by delegation. Sovereignty in government is that public authority which directs or orders what is to be done by each state. It is the supreme power by which any citizen is governed and is the person or body of persons in the state to whom there is politically no superior. The necessary existence of the state and that right and power which necessarily follow is “sovereignty.” By “sovereignty” in its largest sense is meant supreme, absolute, uncontrollable power, the absolute right to govern”
It seems to be either some officials in President Kiir’s regime are totally ignorant of the meaning of “sovereignty” or else they are deliberately grapping it by force to serve their own interests. Sovereignty represents pluralism of South Sudanese ethnic diversity and not subject to one ethnic group as claimed by president Kiir and the cohorts. He wasn’t voted into the office in the claimed 2010 elections by his Dinka ethnic group alone but the process involved all South Sudanese regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.
If sovereignty is vested in the people that means it is a contractual engagement that regulates the relationship between the rulers and the people. Hence, it is subject to peoples’ will to withdraw their mandate once they have lost confidence in their leaders. Clear examples were the persecution, oppression, raping and the planned extrajudicial killing of Nuer citizens, Chollo, Equatorians and Fertit ethnic groups in Bhar El Gazal by the so-called government forces in the broad day light while the whole world was watching. Shame on them! How can a government kill its own people who gave it the mandate to rule?
That is entirely against the peoples’ rights and therefore, President kiir’s powers and authority to govern the citizens of south Sudan has automatically dissipated since the start of the war in December 2013. The only means for him to resume temporary powers is through committing to the current peace agreement. Unfortunately, the President has shown negative attitudes towards signing and implementing peace accord.
Now with the UNSC approval of regional deployment to South Sudan, various scenarios might ensue. First, the government may insist on its rejection of regional force and the UNSC might not change its decision to send forces. In that case, president Kiir’s forces will continue attacking the opposition forces to the extent that the war will escalate all over the country again with an intention to remove the regime that has lost its mandate and is persecuting its own subjects. The role of the UN forces will be limited to protection of civilians and installations but might go beyond combating forces that are seen to be disturbing peace. The UN and regional forces will attempt to restore law and order as South Sudan will become lawless and out of control.
That anarchism and disorderliness will allow UN and AU to deploy more troops to South Sudan with a view to control the situation and taking over the affairs of the country and implement trusteeship or may be allow the participation of some neutral and moderate South Sudanese politicians to work with the UN and AU temporarily to run the transitional government leading to an election sometimes in 2020s if trusteeship is not a popular option.
The other option may be, the government will allow the UN’s regional deployment but again will continue to sabotage implementation of peace by shifting to skirmishing the opposition forces rather than implementing the agreement. The war may not start in Juba but it may occur in peripheries and then escalates to Juba or it might even start there like what happened in July 2016 in J1. The government is lacking the political will to implement peace and therefore will work hard to scrap it and reverse the country back to war. Therefore, the UN and the AU will seek an alternative means to govern the country and restore peace and security. There are limited chances of Dr. Machar and President Kiir to work together to implement the current peace deal because of lack of confidence and trust that had accumulated for a very lengthy time. As a result, the outcome of the peace deal might be completely out of expectation. In addition, President Kiir intends to dominate power as long as his whims will allow him to stay.
The IO forces might be obliged to attack Juba in self-defense as claimed and might sustain the war for sometime if their presence around Juba is in large number with enough weapons and ammunitions as alleged but the main dilemma would be the challenge of controlling Juba when Kiir’s forces are attacking them on one side or different directions. Therefore, restoring peace and order would be another challenge for IO once they have managed to capture Juba which in turn will prompt the International Community to get involved and settle the situation through the previously mentioned scenarios. Even if President Kiir is defeated militarily in Juba, he might still claim sovereignty in his stronghold in Bhar El Gazal or being the president of South Sudan which he did when signing the peace agreement in August 2015, he said:
“ I’m the president and will still be the president of that country and in that position as president”
That is a bit challenging! There is a lot that needs to be accomplished in order to reboot South Sudan and establish a viable political system and rule of law. Therefore, involvement of the international community is a vital aspect of stability in South Sudan whether through trusteeship or including South Sudanese in governing their country.
Alternatively, the only hope for South Sudan to avert trusteeship is by forging a large democratic coalition that comprises of all ethnic groups to revolutionize the war and efforts to stabilize the country diplomatically and politically but will depend on the expedite involvement of the UN and AU to maintain peace in South Sudan.
The writer was a former Political Affairs Officer at South Sudan Liaison Office in Canberra, Australia and a PhD candidate at Monash University, Australia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org